David Blaine’s Bullet Catch: Has He Gone Too Far?

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By Chelsea Nichole

On November 15, 2016 David Blaine released his new special, Beyond Magic, which was met with some mixed reviews. His decision to do the bullet catch caused a lot of controversy not just among those viewing the special but also within his own team. At the end of the special Asi Wind decided he could no longer support David Blaine and be a part of his team due believing he would be supporting Blaine’s decision to put himself at risk of death. The other side of the argument was voiced by Daniel Garcia who stated he would regret not being there to support Blaine even if there is a high risk of death. I personally agree with Asi Wind’s stance; by staying on the team it almost encourages Blaine to continue to take too big a risk especially when you consider he has a daughter.

For me, I look at the trick from the perspective of risk versus reward. What is the risk in performing the trick and then what is the overall payoff? When there is such a high risk of death then the reward has to match that level of risk and in my opinion the bullet catch does not pay off in the end. For one, the trick is over in mere seconds, which in comparison to other Blaine stunts, it is unbelievably short. Besides the one second it takes to pull the trigger and the bullet to hit his mouth, he goes through a long build up through interviews and watching him get a mold made by a dentist. But the trick in and of itself takes less than a second. Some of my past personal favorites was his stunt in the fishbowl which he stayed in for 7 days! So this stunt really doesn’t make sense to me in comparison when you focus specifically on time.

Another reason I think this stunt is too risky is that there are no real safeguards that can be put into place to prevent injury or death. For example, when he did the stunt where he stayed in a fishbowl for 7 days at the end he went to break the record for holding your breath under water. In the end he did not break the record in the fishbowl and rescue divers ended up jumping in to save him since he was chained to the bottom of the bowl. In that stunt, and others before, people have been able to step in if things went too far in order to prevent death. With the bullet catch if Blaine is off by less than an inch when lining his mouth up with the gun, no one can stop him or step in, he will just end up shooting himself in the face. Asi Wind asks Blaine what he would think if he were an audience member and was witnessing someone else pull the same stunt and ends up getting hurt. “What’s the reason? Why is he shooting himself in the mouth?” David responds. Asi Wind follows up by asking Blaine, “Why would he do that?” Blaine’s response, “I guess he finds a really high excitement in it.” That’s not a good enough reason Blaine!

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An additional difference in this stunt as opposed to others is that in the past Blaine’s stunts focused on pushing his body and mind to the limits. Which many could argue he was doing that here but I disagree. Technically anyone could have stood in his place, regardless of how in shape they were, to take a bullet to the mouth. All this seemed to need, in my opinion, was guts. In the past he has held his breath for extreme amounts of time, he was encapsulated by ice for days and stood atop a pole for over a day, among other things. This reminded me more of a “Jackass stunt” than a David Blaine stunt.

I know the counter point to my argument is that historically magicians have done the bullet catch for centuries and I can respect the history behind the trick. But just because there is history behind isn’t enough reason to do it; especially when you consider that people have died while doing the bullet catch. Most notably is Ralf Bialla who did the trick over 3,000 times. What he didn’t realize was the long term effects it was having on his body. He developed circulation problems that lead him to black out and one day while taking a stroll along a mountain he passed out and fell to his death. I point this story out specifically because Blaine plans on doing this trick at the end of each performance so not only may he shoot himself in the head, he may also be causing other kinds of problems to his body we don’t even know about that could potentially be fatal. He even told Rolling Stones, “Even when I get hit with the .22 into a cup in my mouth, it knocks me out. I black out for a second.”

Lastly, the whole build up of the special was to the final moments of the bullet catch and yet in my opinion when he pulled a borrowed ring out of his stomach with a borrowed hanger was infinitely more exciting and unbelievable than the bullet catch. Yes, the catch was pretty awesome, but it was over and done with so fast and I found myself not caring almost immediately after it was done and yet I spent a lot more time thinking about the ring trick. Maybe that’s because there really is no suspense in the trick. He had something built to catch the bullet and then did it.

So at the end of the special when you see Blaine’s performance of the stunt and you find out that the mouth guard shattered, Asi’s response is the exact response I would have had. He says in frustration when Blaine decides he’s going to continue to do the stunt, “Never again! If you’re going to keep doing this then I quit! … I will not help you with this ever again.” Once Blaine walks out of the room Wind and Garcia continue to argue and Wind believed that if they all walked then they could convince Blaine to stop. Garcia’s point was that he is going to continue regardless so he would rather help and do everything he can to make it safe and be there than walk away. I love what Wind stated earlier in the special: “If things go wrong, if you do this stunt and you die, it’s the opposite of inspiring the person. [They would think] ‘Oh well, he had it coming.’” Wind also pointed out that if he were in his shoes and was a father he would hope he wouldn’t be so reckless just for the sake of his child and in my opinion that might be the best argument for Blaine to stop doing the bullet catch.

Incredulously one of the things Blaine told Rolling Stones was that “[he] hopes nobody ever continues this and … this ends the tradition of the bullet catch,” Blaine says. “I do not recommend this.”

These are clearly my own personal thoughts on Blaine’s continued live performances of the bullet catch, but what do you think? Leave a comment below or, if you would like to submit your own opinion editorial, email us at: submissions@sleighted.com.

Sources:

  1. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/blaine-leaves-hospital-after-rescue/
  2. http://mentalfloss.com/article/28590/6-magicians-who-died-while-performing-bullet-catch
  3. http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/viewers-switch-tv-label-david-9446458
  4. http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/features/the-nine-lives-of-david-blaine-w450053
  5. David Blaine’s Beyond Magic

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